Other Voices: Driving me crazy
You haven’t lived until you’ve had the pleasure of teaching your progeny how to drive. Initially I told my husband that it was his job to teach our kids how to drive, being as how I gave birth and both were equally painful.
What really happened is the way of all things parenting. I said one thing, but did something else, confusing everyone in the process, except my eldest who said that her father made her “nervous” and she wanted her mommy to teach her how to drive.
She chose this option, despite the fact that I am not equipped for the task, because I bellow out comments like, “Slow Down!”, “Stop trying to kill us!” and “Get off the flipping bumps,” when my own husband is at the wheel.
Actually, that last comment, “Get off the flipping bumps!” was a frequent refrain, since my daughter had established these as her guiding force, if you will. While most of us use these handy, neatly arranged buttons for general alignment, my child insisted on riding them for entire excursions.
Now, granted, I admire the skill level this requires, but the safety issue is something to consider, what with oncoming traffic a mere kilomiliseconds away. As far as I know, riding the reflectors for protracted periods of time is not on the driver’s test, so next stop: the Multitasking Unit.
We grizzled veteran roadsters are able to sip coffee, listen to music, flick a blinker on, check the rearview mirror for reasons other than grooming, navigate a car around winding roads, avoid wildlife and progress with forward momentum, all while steering the vehicle as we remain at a pleasurable cruising altitude. In the case of a driver-in-training, this isn’t as easy as it looks, nor is it integrated as smoothly, which I am reminded of every time the neck rest delivers a karate chop to my C1 vertebrae.
Heaven help us on the days when my daughter notices things that have nothing to do with driving, but rather her surroundings. We have often veered off the road as she encounters a pedestrian for which we overcorrect to the next county. My fashion-conscious daughter is hardwired to notice styles so, on one occasion, she yelled out, “Omigod, is that a Gucci bag?!” slamming on the brakes in the process which, in turn, made me jam down my imaginary brake. In fact, this pretend brake has led to calf cramps, necessitating an increase in my banana consumption.
In an attempt to win the Academy Award for Best Middle-Aged Mother in the Role of a Driving Instructor, I project relaxation by distracting myself with internal thoughts. I do this by chewing gum like a mad woman and using a willpower questioning technique I’ve developed. I ask myself things like: Is my Will current? Do I have a Will? Will this drive never end? Will I survive? Can I will this vehicle to pull over?
In another ploy to prevent my daughter from noticing that I am scared spitless, I’ve used my humor coping mechanism which does not do us any favors in the safety department, let me tell you. She gets laughing so hard that the car weaves in and out of traffic, resulting in some close calls, so I’ve shut down my short-lived comedy show, “Hey, we’re rolling with the laughs,” lest we become short-lived ourselves.
My daughter is so cute, though, because she tries hard to do it all right, even apologizing profusely when making driving errors to which her mother lovingly and compassionately replies, “Don’t apologize. Just do it right!”
Meanwhile, as I wait for the tax return that will pay for another car and more gum for me, I’ll sip my bubbly water, isometrically tone my calves and hope like heck that I can make my youngest daughter good and nervous before it’s her turn to learn how to drive.
Diane Dean-Epps is an author, teacher and comedienne. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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